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So, what is a “love language,” and how might understanding them help our relationships? It’s all about knowing what it takes for a person to feel loved, Chapman tells SheKnows.
After many years of counseling couples in crisis, Chapman says, “It became apparent to me that what makes one person feel loved isn’t always the same for their spouse or partner,” he explains. “I discovered every person understands and receives love in a specific language, one of five to be precise. The other four are just as important and offer [other] ways to express love to each other.”
Dr. Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today, also sees the value of using these terms to demonstrate love. “Understanding your own ways of expressing love, and your partner’s, and understanding how your expressions of love are different or similar means you know when you’re loving your partner the way you want to and when you’re loving your partner in his or her favorite way,” she tells SheKnows. “You can understand better why some things work between you and others don’t. You can learn to recognize when your partner is sending you love, even if it’s not the way you’re used to.”
According to Chapman, taking the time to learn and really understand your partner’s primary love language, which is often different from your own, can improve communication and strengthen your bond.
But what are these five different love languages? Here’s what you need to know.
1. Words of affirmation
According to Chapman, people with this love language need to hear their partner say, “I love you.” Even better is including the reasons behind the love through leaving them a voice message or a written note or talking to them directly with sincere words of kindness and affirmation.
Other examples from Tessina include saying things like: “Thank you,” “That was nice of you” and/or “I appreciate what you did.”
2. Quality time
This language, says Chapman, is all about giving your partner your undivided attention. That means no TV, no chores, no cell phone — just giving each other your undivided attention. Take time every day to do this.
“Spending time with your partner is about being together, paying attention to each other, sharing something meaningful together and listening and communicating,” adds Tessina. Other examples include preparing dinner together and talking while preparing and eating it, sharing plans for the future, making love and/or creating something together.
3. Receiving gifts
The person who loves this language thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. In short, actions speak louder than words.
“The thing that works best is picking the right gift that shows you understand your partner and the effort you made to express love,” says Chapman. “Think about finding a gift that your partner has been asking for or would enjoy receiving and plan for a special way of giving it; make it a surprise.”
The act of giving a gift tells your partner you cared enough to think about him or her in advance and go out of your way to get something to make your partner smile, says Tessina.
4. Acts of service
This language includes anything you do to ease the burden of responsibility, like vacuuming the floors, going grocery shopping or sending thank-you notes. Stumped as to what your partner needs? Chapman suggests asking your partner to give ideas for things they’d like you to do that would make their life easier and make a schedule to get them done.
Simple things like making breakfast in bed or walking the dog demonstrate you care about your partner and your life together, says Tessina. “It says you want to make your home and relationship more livable and you want to ease your partner’s burden,” she adds.
5. Physical touch
People who speak this love language thrive on any type of physical touch: hand-holding, hugs and pats on the back. “Be intentional about finding ways to express your love using physical touch: giving hugs, touching their arm or hand during a conversation; offer to give a neck or back rub,” says Chapman.
According to Tessina, physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. “As long as it’s done in an atmosphere which is loving and not oppressive, physical touch can be the most effective of the love languages. It calms, heals and reassures,” she explains.
The bottom line is that not everyone expresses their love in the same way, so being aware of the different love languages can help you understand your relationship better.
You don’t need to take a flight in space or even take a white water rafting trip to experience awe. You can experience awe at varying intensities, and in your own ways: listening to a moving piece of music, seeing a giant skyscraper, or reading a newspaper story about a local hero.
“It’s how we respond when we see something new or novel that doesn’t fit with our understanding of the world,” Amie Gordon, PhD, Principal Research Scientist in the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab at University of California-San Francisco, tells NBC.
Fundamentally, awe is about novelty and vastness, Gordon says. Physical space might create that vastness, as can someone’s talent or someone’s goodness, she says.
And negative experiences, too, can trigger awe (think natural disasters), Gordon adds — though which benefits such moments come with is yet unclear, she says.
There’s no perfect formula for what might elicit awe from you (because it’s different for everyone), but there are some things you can do to help you run into it more often:
1.Go out into nature.
Research shows that people consistently rank nature as one of the top ways that they experience awe, Gordon says. Try getting to a place where you can get a vast view of your environment (such as climbing a mountain or even getting to a the top floor a high building), she says. Or just take a walk in whatever nature is around you and try looking for something you’ve never seen before, she says.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Novelty is a big part of awe. Visit somewhere in your town or city you’ve never been. Try something new. Read about someone you don’t know much about, or a biography of someone who inspires you, Gordon suggests.
3. Look up.
Sure, you can experience awe watching a film showing the world’s tallest mountain or listening to a recording of a symphony. But those encounters likely pale in comparison to the magnitude of awe you’d feel had you had those experiences in real life, Anderson says, making the case for taking time to experience awe in 3-D. “Your phone will never be as intense as actually being there in person.”
Take in the sites and sounds around you. And look up from your phone and other distractions.
4. Have an open mind.
Part of the experience of awe is that feeling of smallness that cause you to rescale yourself — or see yourself in a different light, says Beau Lotto, PhD, a neuroscientist at and founder of the private, experimental research lab, the Lab of Misfits.
Lotto and his colleagues recently partnered with the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group to observe how the company’s live performances elicit awe and how it changes brain activity. (They’re findings suggest when people report experiencing awe mapped to changes in patterns of brain activity linked to being more willing to take risks and being more comfortable with uncertainty. The data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal.)
Lotto’s advice for feeling more awe therefore is to engage with the world with a more open mind, see possibilities, ask questions, and look for the impossible.